For almost two generations, major parts of academe have been alienated from America's exercise of power due to entrenched ideological differences with the federal government. Following President Obama's election, however, signs of a remarkable shift emerged, with more academics serving in policy positions, huddling with top officials behind closed doors, and otherwise extolling the virtues of "soft" or "smart" power. How can Washington take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create more structured and effective partnerships with universities?
In this Policy Focus, Dr. Martin Kramer surveys the state of government-academe relations ten years after his bestselling book Ivory Towers dissected "the failure of Middle Eastern studies in America." Intended as a short field manual for government engagement with professors, deans, and university presidents, the paper describes how policymakers can better wield three of academia's most important levers: the clout inherent in peer review, the influence conferred by academic endowments, and the access created by sharing information despite the need to keep some of it classified.
The Obama administration is undercutting its own ambitious agenda, by signaling that the United States has lost some of its weight in world affairs. The “post-American” rhetoric of liberal internationalists and realists is setting off a scramble for advantage among the “middle powers” of the Middle East. Originally a lecture delivered on November 16, 2009, to the Columbia University International Relations Forum (CUIRF).
For the past twenty years, Middle Eastern studies in America have been factories of error. The academics, blinded by their own prejudices and enslaved to the fashions of the disciplines, have failed to anticipate or explain any of the major developments in the Middle East. Within the field, hardly a voice dares to protest, but beyond it, each debacle chips away at academic's credibility. Middle Eastern studies have failed--at a time when understanding the Middle East has become crucial to America. In this iconoclastic exposé, Martin Kramer surveys the ruins of Middle Eastern studies, to ask how and why they went wrong. Ivory Towers on Sand is the most thorough critique of Middle Eastern studies ever published in the United States--and a necessary step toward their reconstruction.
A study of Muhammad Asad, a European Jewish convert to Islam, who played a prominent role in mid-20th-century Muslim intellectual life, as a thinker and Qur'an translator. The study places him in his political context, with some emphasis on the impact of his Jewish origins.
Jews figure prominently in the history of the modern European encounter with Islam. The similarities between Hebrew and Arabic, the parallels between two faiths grounded in law, and the relative tolerance of Muslim rule toward Jews--all these are said to have permitted many Jews to approach Islam with an understanding and sympathy once uncommon in Europe. Was there a "Jewish discovery of Islam," distinct from Europe's discovery? Is there some unifying characteristic to the approach of these Jewish "discoverers"? In this original volume, contributors assess the approaches to Islam of some of the most famous European Jewish travelers, writers, and scholars.